18 Sep. 2010 // 17 Oct. 2010

NETWORKSYSTEMS

Sala de Exposições Temporárias | Temporary Exhibitions Room

The cross between the work of Diana Costa and José Lourenço has its roots in a quite common issue of contemporary societies, i.e. urbanity. Each artist, in their own way, represents the urban experience as the initial premise of their work. With very different end results, both artists seem to be discussing the same idea: the consequences of the absence of a given action or event.
José Lourenço represents the blank spaces, corridors, accesses, stairs and platforms of a subway system devoid of people. In a cold, inhospitable way, his drawings and paintings show a pristine city where human presence is lacking, as is the use by these passers-by of the spaces they avail themselves of. This end-of-mankind vision takes the idea of the decadence and depersonalisation of cities to an even more frightening extreme. He conveys the concept that the utopian idea of the city as the excellence of modern life is only possible or, at least, ideal, when devoid of the people who enjoy it, and the confrontation with absence is, in this way, somewhat incontrovertible.
Diana Costa shows a new series of works that focus on the representation of isolated, cut-out individuals who drift across the walls of the exhibition space. However, this human presence recoils through the unbalanced positions that these figures assume. The suspended actions that occur demonstrate an ostensible well-being. It seems as if the characters celebrate their human life in an idyllic space. The uncertainty of their actions reveals the possibility of well-being in the places of their lived experience. The spaces were erased as a way of glorifying the actions that take place within them. The city is thus understood, suspended in its natural space, and life frees itself by fostering individual gain.
The definition of city could be understood as a vast agglomeration of people, with access to certain economic, social, commercial, industrial and cultural services. More, the city corresponds to an organised, programmed model of community life, idealised for the well-being of the community that lives in it. Unlike the rural space, the city has been envisaged as a space of negative influences rife with crime and evil. Historically, according to the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, the first city was founded by the first murderer. After killing his brother Abel, Cain, doomed to err as a vagrant, settles in an isolated region of Eden, starting his offspring and creating an urban community. According to this religious version, the city reveals the individual’s depersonalisation, associating him with decadence and evil, as the subsequent destruction of the city of Sodom confirms. Thus, large concentrations of people tend to increase, perhaps exponentially, the taste and desire of human nature for the sombre-being and the decadent-being, thus feeding an inexpressive way of erecting the places of human living and survival.
On the one hand, the absence of human figures in the work of José Lourenço depopulating the urban space demonstrates the inability and even the uselessness of the human race to co-inhabit the space that it ideally built for itself. On the other, in opposition, in the work of Diana Costa, the absence of space surrounding the figures shows the harmony that exists between both. This double observation accentuates the perverseness of the lack of urban attuning where, in a selfish or altruistic way, each wildly uses and overuses the same space in the hope that it becomes a meeting point for all.

Hugo Dinis, August 2010
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Diana Costa: Exibition view
Diana Costa: Exibition view
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